CHRIS Maguire’s future is up in the air, but if he is at Oxford United next season the forward says his connection with head coach Michael Appleton will be key.

Appleton held one-on-one meetings with the players this week to discuss whether they were in his plans for the 2017/18 campaign.

But not everyone was able to attend before the squad and staff’s post-season trip to Spain, which starts today, meaning United have delayed announcing their retained list until next week.

Maguire, who finished as the side’s top-scorer with 17 goals this campaign, is the highest-profile member of the squad whose contract expires this summer.

Appleton has made it clear if the 28-year-old wants to stay on then he will be part of the set-up next season, but United will not want a repeat of last summer, when Maguire took two months to sign a contract.

While financial considerations will be pivotal, the Scot also stressed working with the highly-rated Appleton, who also signed him at Portsmouth, was a factor.

He said: “I’m in no hurry, but the combination between me and the gaffer is very strong.

“That’s probably the main reason I signed, so if the gaffer is here there’s a great chance of that happening.

“I can’t praise him enough. I’ve worked with him for a number of years now and he’s a great up-and-coming young manager.”

While many would have lost patience with Maguire’s delays in agreeing a deal last summer and moved on to alternative targets, Appleton maintained regular contact.

The persistence paid off, although the former Aberdeen trainee revealed negotiations did not get off to a smooth start.

He said: “I was on holiday with my mates and I was having a tattoo at the time when he phoned me.

“It wasn’t a great conversation at the time, but we’ve got that understanding.

“We know where each other wants to go and I’m here to open conversations.”

United’s supporters rose to their feet when Maguire, whose popularity has rocketed over the way he embraced the rivalry with Swindon Town, was substituted in Sunday’s final game of the season.

“I’ve enjoyed every second of my time here,” the U’s No 10 said.

“Every club you play at you want to feel welcome.

“When I came off I got a standing ovation, which was great.

“It’s always good when fans sing your name, that’s what you want when you’re a young kid.”